Bulgarian Caretaker Govt Sacks Kozloduy NPP CEO

Energy | April 19, 2013, Friday // 16:27|  views

Valentin Nikolov, CEO of Bulgaria's Kozloduy NPP, has been fired after a probe. Photo by BGNES

The CEO of Bulgaria's only operational nuclear power plant in Kozloduy, Valentin Nikolov, has been fired over the results of a probe.

His replacement will be selected through a job competition, caretaker Economy and Energy Minister, Asen Vasilev, reported Friday.

He stressed the breaches unveiled by the probe were very serious and systematic, not related to particular individuals, but new people were needed to fix them.

The probe at the NPP has been conducted by the Inspectorate at the Council of Ministers and involves the period 2011 – 2012. It has been ordered at the beginning of January, 2012, by then Economy and Energy Minister, Delyan Dobrev, before the caretaker Cabinet took office.

The most serious breaches are related to public tenders as some contracts had been signed by other employees instead of the CEO, as it is required.

In other cases, the value of the contract exceeds by far the estimated one. The report also describes a case when a bidder, proposing a price three times higher than others, has won the tender, despite one of the criteria being "lowest price." In other cases, the values of the contracts exceed the NPP budget.

Other breaches include breaking down one public tender to several smaller ones in order to circumvent the law; hiring new members of the commissions examining the bids, after they have been submitted; violating the requirement to have three bids for smaller tenders.

The probe further established that the National Electric Company, NEK, systematically failed to pay the NPP for electric power supplies and its debt is growing.

The report has been sent to the Public Financial Inspection Agency, ADFI, the Bulgarian Energy Holding, BEH, and the Main Labor Safety Inspectorate.

Minister Vasilev says he would provide the report to the media.

He is planning 22 staff reshuffles at 12 State companies under the authority of his Ministry.

In May 2012, Nikolov, former Member of the Parliament from the formerly-ruling Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria party, GERB was surprisingly appointed the CEO of the Kozloduy NPP by the plant's board.

Prior to that Nikolov was made one of Bulgaria's four Deputy Ministers of Economy, Energy, and Tourism, and kept the post for less than two months.

In May, 2012, the Kozloduy board also dismissed the NPP CEO, Alexander Nikolov; at about the same time, former Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov discharged Valentin Nikolov from his Deputy Minister job.

"The reshuffle has been necessitated by the need to improve the coordination and the speed of work on extending the life of Units 5 and 6 at the Kozloduy NPP, and the construction of a seventh reactor there," then Bulgaria's Economy and Energy Minister Delyan Dobrev explained upon presenting Valentin Nikolov to the Kozloduy plant team.

Nikolov has been the Deputy Minister in charge of the working group to extend the life of the two operational 1000 MW units at the Kozloduy NPP.

"The main priority in the nuclear energy policy will be to extend the life of Units 5 and 6 of the Kozloduy plant by 15 years. This is my personal responsibility, not only the government's responsibility, which is why I proposed that Valentin Nikolov took this job," Dobrev said.

Valentin Nikolov has an engineering degree. He entered politics in 2009 when he got elected a MP from the GERB party.

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Tags: probe, breaches, public tenders, asen vasilev, caretaker, Economy and Energy Minister, Delyan Dobrev, Nuclear Power Plant, Alexander Nikolov, NPP, Kozloduy, Valentin Nikolov, GERB, ADFI, BEH, NEK, GERB, MP, Boyko Borisov


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